Is Solar Worth it???????

Dave Hoskins

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4,774
Location
Parker County, Texas
I don't have it. But, my sister recently went with solar and seems to be pleased with it. She lives on the west side of Fort Worth where they have continuous power problems. First she had to put in a Generac system to keep from losing food from electrical outages. And, now she has the solar thing as well. She seems to be happy as a clam with it.
 

Darren Wright

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19,014
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Springfield, Missouri
I agree with Robert, location seems to be a big one. My FIL had it installed on their house, doing a second mortgage to pay for it last year. Before it was even hooked up, they needed to move into an assisted living facility. They need to sell their house, but we've been told that the solar is not included in the appraisal, at least for anything close to what they paid to have it installed, they will take a loss on it. Now had they been able to use it for the next 10 - 15 years, it would have paid for itself, but not the case for them.

We are looking at solar here at the farm, but ours won't be tied to the grid and will mostly be for emergency use to run the outdoor wood boiler, lights, and a few small appliances as needed initially.
 

Ryan Mooney

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7,367
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The Gorge Area, Oregon
Didn't pencil at my house because we have some of the lowest rates in the country, my house is in a bit of a shaded hole, and our usage is generally really low because of good insulation and such (I think our average monthly is below $50).

Some friends just over the hill found it well worth while (slightly higher rates, better exposure).. and everyone I know in Hawaii had a pay back of only a couple years.

Spending money on weather stripping and insulation would still be my first pass regardless.
 

Mike Stafford

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1,564
Location
Coastal plain of North Carolina
I don't know a thing about solar panels, windmills, etc. However in the late 70's, early 80's I was quite interested in passive solar construction.

In fact I built a room onto the house which we called a solarium. I used some plans I had found in a magazine. It had a brick veneer exterior which matched the rest of the house but the south facing roof and wall consisted of 10 4x8 foot double insulated glass panels. I had the area under the floor dug out three feet deep and insulated the hole and then filled it with gravel. Topped the gravel off with a concrete slab. upon which we put Mexican quarry tile that we laid ourselves. There was a little stub wall under the lower glass panels and we had installed five Anderson windows that opened with a crank. We also put in two operable sky lights to help vent excess heat in the summer.

Where the new roof joined the existing roof we created an insulated chase that connected to the air handler for the furnace. There was a thermostatically controlled vent in the wall that was below the new roof.

Brothers and sisters let me tell you something; that little 20x16 room generated more heat than we could pull out of it. I remember one day sitting in the solarium with my wife when it was 15 degrees outside. It was 105 in the solarium We had a pair of French doors that connected the new room to our family room and the heat just poured into the house when they were open. It greatly reduced our heating bill. We enjoyed that room year round but we did have to install operable shades to keep it from being so hot in the summer. It was basically a three season room. In the spring, fall and winter it was very comfortable for the most part. In the summer it was hard to get it cool enough That floor was a heat sink that kept on giving free heat. It was quite wonderful to go out there on a winter morning and have coffee barefooted on those deliciously warm tiles.

Went by our old house a few years ago and discovered the new owner had removed the panels in the roof. I guess he tired of cleaning all that glass. I wonder how much heat the room generates now.
 

Leo Voisine

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Messages
5,082
Location
East Freeetown, Massachusetts
Well here is my breakdown.

Electricity here is .21 per KWH plus all the other fees.
Lots of factors and life has changed since 2015 - but pre 2015 I was using about 7000 - 7200 KWH (actual usage)
Now I use MORE because I the solar array produces more - about 8900 KWH

I got a 1.9% 20 year loan
I pay more than min and it will be PIF April next year --- Nov 2015 - April 2023 = 7.5 years

Loan = $35,000
Loan interest for 7.5 years = $2800
Energy credits = about $22,000 (paid quarterly for 10 years)
Fed Tax Credit = 10,500 (one time)
State Tax Credit = 1000 (one time)

Total Cost Loan + interest minus credits = 4300 total solar array cost

Assuming the solar array will last 20 years, (then DEAD the day after that), hopefully a lot longer
ANNUAL cost of electricity = $215 (over the analysis period of 20 years)

After assuming that KWH rates of .21 do not change --- HA!!!!
ANNUAL electric cost PRE 2015 = About $1470 - $1512 - PER YEAR
ANNUAL electricity cost POST 2015 (IF I was buying it) = $1680 - $1869 - PER YEAR

My system is owned by me - not leased.

After 7 years - so far - this is proving to be true.
 

Vaughn McMillan

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34,753
Location
ABQ NM
This is a totally different scenario, but when my BIL was running the Albuquerque International Airport, they got a federal grant (loan) to install solar panels to help generate electricity for the airport. (Between the various buildings and the runway lights, they use a lot of electricity.) They put panels on all of the shade canopoys on the top floor of the parking structure as a test project. Despite his skepticism, the panels paid for themselves within about 3 years, much faster than originally predicted. The test project went so well that they added more panels on the roof of the terminal building.
 

Frank Fusco

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12,587
Location
Mountain Home, Arkansas
Leo, your loan is not typical. You got a good deal. Whether solar is worth it depends on recovery period. My son, who is a dedicated greenie has only a small back up system at his second home. He would never out live the cost of a full system. Same with a ground source water furnace. When mine went out I would have to live past 150 years old to recover the cost of replacement. Went with standard heat pump.
 

Leo Voisine

Member
Messages
5,082
Location
East Freeetown, Massachusetts
Frank - no the loan is not typical - as consumer loans go. The loan was ONLY for solar, nothing else. It was an offering for solar and I don't know what is available now. This is mostly a state advantage. Massachusetts was really pushing for solar.
 

Ryan Mooney

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7,367
Location
The Gorge Area, Oregon
passive solar construction.

There are some super interesting things that can be done with that, both for heating AND cooling. Combining some of the solarium/hot wall ideas with Solar Chimney's could make some SUPER interesting building designs (there are some really cool existing installations that have been around for centuries.. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_chimney).

I think that it could be especially relevant for a 3.5 or 4 season greenhouse installation.. as well..

You could have helped the summer issue with appropriately angled overhangs (assuming you were far enough north that sun angle matters..). My last house had sort of half done that and it made a pretty big difference (they had big east/west windows as well which, while awesome for the view, kind of put a bit of a hit on the passive solar efficiency come summer time).

Electricity here is .21 per KWH plus all the other fees.
That's a lot of the difference.. We're at just under 0.06 which is harder to make up the difference for (at 8900kw we'd be $534.0/yr in usage - the base rate adds some on top.. this is actually dang close to my yearly as well.. mostly because I have a lot of fridges and freezers ... and we don't always remember to turn off the laser printer when it's not in use. :D ). You're usage is at or below national avg so pretty decent.
 

Mike Stafford

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Messages
1,564
Location
Coastal plain of North Carolina
There are some super interesting things that can be done with that, both for heating AND cooling. Combining some of the solarium/hot wall ideas with Solar Chimney's could make some SUPER interesting building designs (there are some really cool existing installations that have been around for centuries.. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_chimney).

I think that it could be especially relevant for a 3.5 or 4 season greenhouse installation.. as well..

You could have helped the summer issue with appropriately angled overhangs (assuming you were far enough north that sun angle matters..). My last house had sort of half done that and it made a pretty big difference (they had big east/west windows as well which, while awesome for the view, kind of put a bit of a hit on the passive solar efficiency come summer time).


That's a lot of the difference.. We're at just under 0.06 which is harder to make up the difference for (at 8900kw we'd be $534.0/yr in usage - the base rate adds some on top.. this is actually dang close to my yearly as well.. mostly because I have a lot of fridges and freezers ... and we don't always remember to turn off the laser printer when it's not in use. :D ). You're usage is at or below national avg so pretty decent.
It would have taken some powerful large overhangs. The wall was slightly angled and made of 5 sections of double insulated glass. Half of the roof for the solarium was also 5 sections of double insulated glass.
We bought shades and installed them but it was still hotter than you know what during the summer.

Most of the cost of our solarium was paid for the Energy Tax Credit. Of course that was a long time ago.
 

Ryan Mooney

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7,367
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The Gorge Area, Oregon
Another factor I've considered; If we move someplace not already connected and there's more than the "power company does it for free" distance for hookup (over one or maybe two power poles or any distance of trenching..) the connection cost starts putting a pretty good down payment towards having an independent electric system..


It would have taken some powerful large overhangs

Yeah you have to design the whole window & roof system with that in mind. Whether or not its feasible depends on latitude of course..
 

glenn bradley

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10,967
Location
SoCal
So many variables. I have multiple friends that have it from various sources and through various plans; lease, own, co-own. Best case is the cost is about the same as without for the first decade or so except you have to fuss with the maintenance. Over that time the amount you get credited keeps going down which is beyond your control and not discussed during the sales pitch. Worst case is the cost is more than without and the service has been non-functional for 2 years. Company that sold it sold the maintenance to another company who sold the contract to someone out of state. It's all legit and you agreed to it in the fine print. System has been non-functioning and the case rages on. There seems to be an element in solar that is similar to asking someone about their new car; they just spent a ton on it so it has to be fabulous :D
 
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